Ben Sutcliffe Marine Surveyor - England & Wales

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Many so called surveyors have no real qualifications to survey small craft....let alone understand how they are built! Don't be frightened to ask for what qualifications and experience they have in building and surveying craft. Also check if they have proper insurance!

I'm pleased to say I qualified as a boat builder in the early 1980's at the A.M.G.T.A. and the well know Whistocks Boat Yard in Woodbridge. I have surveyed craft from the early 1990's. Over the last few years I have had several technical and advisory articles published in P.B.O and Yachting Monthly. I am a full member of the BMF, Accredited Member of the YDSA, I undertake coding inspections for the Y.D.S.A for the M.C.A. schemes and am also recorded on the Register of International Marine Surveyors. To be a member of any also confirms I hold appropriate insurance.

Beware of imitations!


Skin fittings are a serious problem, many of the DZR type  fittings on face value do look in fair condition, however some of the deteration will be from within, as with the one photoed here, the deteration was within the main body of the fitting, and it was only on removal that the fitting actually sheared off! Most fittings that have been fitted over the last 20 years are DZR Brass, there are few options now available from chandlers as real Bronze fittings seam to be extremely difficult to now obtain. I've been looking around for a solution and honestly think that the Marelon type fittings that are distributed by Aquafax here in the U.K. may be the right way to go. i've have over seen craft fitted with them for several years now and with no issues. There are some good American you tube information available for further viewing.     Marelon fitting under test   New DZR fitting under test DZR Test  once you have watched this remember that test was on a new fitting, not one that's been fitted for a few years and suffered from galvanic attack....Remember all DZR Brass fittings should be stamped with a CE mark that means they should be ok for 5 years, Make sure two clamps per hose! on replacing always change the whole unit including, through hull, valve and tail or again look at changing to the Marelon range. info on how to fit   i'm not on commission! Just think its time to change..


During an inspection of a Steel Narrow Boat serious delamination of the base plate was found internally and externally. Many current builders use rolled mild steel rather than the cheaper cast sheets of mild steel. Without sounding too boring when steel is rolled the structure of the material is altered, like wise if you are purchasing a 10mm sheet its tolerance will be about 10%. Cast sheets can have larger thickness tolerances. The base plate was stated as 10mm but was found to be from 10mm to 7.5mm. the side shell was stated at 6mm! The base plate where inspection was possible and on the side shell around the water line where the steel experiences a constant wetting and drying environment had excellerated its deterioration and delamination of the cast sheet materials had followed. Prevention could have been possible with good quality epoxy paint protection, not just basic blacking and anodes being fitted that were not painted. The craft also had shore power with no Isolation Transformer to protect the craft. Protection of the internals like wise is essential in areas like the swim and gas locker areas.

Be Safe...Check your GAS DELIVERY HOSING!

Gas delivery hosing. I recently found possibly the oldest length of hosing on a power boat since I started surveying. The date 1977. That makes the pipe over 34 years old!!!! I can't believe that the craft has not been surveyed in all those years and no one has noticed such a basic and potentially dangerous item that has not been replaced. Like wise copper pipe was not supported within the run and potential fracturing was highly likely, especially through a bulkhead where it wasn't correctly fitted. I cannot even start to remind folks how dangerous gas is on a vessel I have seen several terrible incidents from it. LPG is heavy, any leak in the system unless it is within the gas bottle locker with a good unrestricted drain will end up in the crafts bilge, any stray spark will be catastrophic. Need I say more!


ANODES. I can not over emphasis the dangers of not protecting craft from Galvanic corrosion by fitting suitable anodes. Depending on the type of water your craft operates in will reflect on what type of sacrificial anodes you should have fitted to your craft. Like wise with so many craft now fitted with shore power consideration of suitable isolation transformers or fitting galvanic isolators are very important to protect you from bonding your craft to others


Batteries in small craft are always a difficult subject to get a good balance of installation and ventilation with good access, tidy, secure and safe. Recently on a 27 foot yacht I found this terrible example of how some owners totally disregard their own and others safety with an almost non existent installation! Firstly the battery was cable tied to the rubber exhaust, in its self the owner was lucky the PVC ties had not cut through the exhaust. Secondly and more importantly the exhaust gets very warm, the battery is sealed and presents quite an explosive risk! There are quite a few other things that could be noted, have a good look! Just think! Check out your installation. Remember the basics, secure, vented and tidy with no chance of shorting or warming! That would be a good start.

Frozen pipes could sink your craft.

Recently many of the marinas and rivers have frozen with the extreme cold weather this winter.

I have been very aware at how many of us have relaxed our winterisation of craft since we have had milder winters in recent times. If you keep your  craft afloat I would strongly recommend all skin fitting sea cocks should be shut just incase the pipes freeze and split the pipes. The photo shows water pipe mixer tap blown apart due to the strength of the ice frozen in the pipe ....Whether your craft is afloat or ashore make sure the engine is well protected from the low temperatures and run anti freeze in the engine water coolant if possible. Drain down any water holding tanks etc. News report of craft sinking in Ireland

Check your flares!
Over the last few months I have been very aware that with the credit crunch many owners are trying to save a few pounds on there running costs. Recently I've surveyed a number of craft whose flares were very out of date, including one set that expired in 1977!

Apart from the fact they would almost certainly not work they are extremely dangerous and likely to blow the handlers hand off!

Please, if you have out of date flares follow this link on how to dispose of them safely Thankyou.